T launches PR offensive on repair work

Poftak stars in video; ads run in 3 newspapers

AS PART OF A BROADER EFFORT to explain what the MBTA is doing to improve service, the transit authority ran full-page ads in the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and Metro on Monday.

The ads, entitled “A progress report for October,” detail improvements being made on the subway, bus, and commuter rail systems. The ads, which are scheduled to run on a monthly basis, coincide with updates being provided on the MBTA’s 618 in-station digital displays, and a new, 3-minute video shot with General Manager Steve Poftak explaining the work that is going on.

“I want to especially thank our customers for their patience during this,” Poftak says inside a station, holding a hard hat and wearing a safety vest. “I know these diversions are tough. I know it takes extra time. But we really appreciate them hanging in there with us as we build a better T.”

Poftak outlines the work going on and the T’s plan to spend $8.2 billion over the next five years deploying new trains, adding new track, and refreshing stations. “We’re making a better MBTA for our customers,” Poftak said.

The public relations offensive by Poftak is an attempt to keep MBTA customers informed about ongoing repair work while also making clear that the inconvenience of weekend shutdowns will help the transit authority improve overall service at a much faster pace. The PR blitz comes at a time when the T is under fire for failing to turn around the system faster and the Legislature is debating whether the agency needs additional funding.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the three ads on Monday cost a total of $31,398 – $27,270 for the Globe ad, $4,128 for the Herald ad, and nothing for the Metro ad. Pesaturo said the Metro doesn’t charge the T anything for periodic ads in return for being allowed to put small newspaper racks in stations.

Pesaturo said the T has traditionally spent very little on media. According to data from 2018, the T spent $156,240 on media, while the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York City spent $880,364 and the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority spent $1,459,516.